Drum Duets!

Got to meet up with my elementary school music teacher today, Mr. Steve Calentropio for a wee bit of drumming and lunch. I sent him a duet to work on over the summer and I learned my part so that when we got together we could actually play. I am happy to report I held my own although he wanted to keep increasing the bpm from the prescribed 120 to 130 to 140! I was very afraid. I do not believe I have ever tried to play ANYTHING so fast before but I did try.

I feel lucky to still have a positive relationship with a teacher from my elementary school days. He was a special one.

A Weekend in Drummergirl(s) House

Friday night Dad had plans outside of the house which gave this Mom some free time to pick her daughters’ brains for some ways to improve her rolls. This impromptu session started the ball rolling into an informal drum off, dance session and overall music chaos! Nothing makes me happier. I love seeing all three of my kids in full on music mode. Dance parties reign. Agreeing on a song is not always easy though.

Sunday brought on the big drum head/bottom changing project and my youngest daughter was on hand to provide assistance. My older one was on hand to provide snarky commentary throughout the process. After reading and rereading the Pearl hand out on changing and tuning drum heads we also decided to use a Pearl tutorial on YouTube the first time out. This was very helpful. After that it was HGTV while we finished the job! They look and sound awesome. Looking forward to a long practice session soon.

Next practice plan

So after this week’s lesson I have a lot on my plate. Unfortunately for me my teacher took my improv song and turned it into a challenge. No longer free form for me! Have to do the actual beat and stops all while holding onto 3 measures and 1 measure improv fill. Sometimes my head and hands can’t keep it all going. Who am I kidding? A lot of times! This is a fast one. Note to self: don’t pick fast improv songs anymore in case the Professor pulls this stunt again.

Steely Dan: Black Cow: This is one I feel I have the beat down; verse vs chorus but once those fills get added in and I know it is coming I believe it will not be so easy.

Massive Attack: Teardrop: Off the hook? No mention this week but I am sure I am supposed to be clinging onto this one. (weird coincidence; out with a friend for lunch this week and this song came on…fairly obscure one, surprised-haunting me)

Reading exercise to the metronome still. Picking up speed. Relaxed is the key here people.

New to the roster this week: Shuffle groove to a song and none other than two of my long time favorite musicians together-BB King & Eric Clapton: Ten Long Years. This is in blues form which is a whole different ball game. It is measures of 12¬† with fill although there are a few tricks in there. Or at least I think so…where it is 4/fill & 8/fill and then the reverse. Drummer making sure we are paying attention. The one thing I wish I was able to conquer because there are a few in this song…faster rolls.

My music teacher from elementary school had to ditch today’s fun but I will continue on the duet in hopes we can finally catch up soon. My dynamics need work!

 

Last Night’s Lesson

Okay, so last night went pretty well despite the intimidation factor of having someone about two to three feet away staring at your every move. I received some “good job Ginger” comments which makes me very happy. Hard work paying off. I should mention I did have to take a brief break to go upstairs and give my children a well deserved reprimand for crazy loud screaming at each other which was VERY distracting while trying to have my lesson…their screams could be heard over my headphones which means it was very LOUD! I so look forward to my two lessons a month and really do not wish to have a minute wasted. Look for what I will be working on next posting soon…

Lesson Day TMO

Tmo a lesson day for all three gals in this house. I am currently working on a few things: one of the exercises I am given by the Professor involves listening to a song of his choice (sometimes his choice not one I can bear to listen to repeatedly and we haggle for one I can live with that fits the bill!) figuring out the bpm (beats per minute) on the metronome app on my Ipod, general beat/groove and fills. This is a challenge for me. I am currently on Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” and Steely Dan’s “Black Cow.” One is insanely fast and one is ridiculously relaxed. Can you guess which?

I also have been working on increasing my speed on a reading exercise from 90-95 with a goal of 100. Not there yet. 90 decent, 95 mostly decent, haven’t even tried 100.

My favorite right now because I am so hoping I will be solid on this soon; the shuffle groove. I am in the baby step phase right now but I am dying to get this one. It is in A LOT of songs I want to play! John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” So lucky to have seen him perform many moons ago in CA. I never tire of this song. It is often my reward after practicing the more technical items on my homework list.

I am also revisiting a snare duet in advance of hanging with my elementary school music teacher, Steve Calentropio later this week. I sent him a copy at the beginning of the summer so we could play together once we met up again and Friday is the day. Goodness knows we have enough snare drums. ūüôā

Improv! Another challenge for me. I am not an improv girl. A mimic yes, but coming up with my own stuff, WHOA! I freeze. I am always trying to find songs to work to so that I will be inspired to challenge myself and keep this work up. This is helpful. This week’s choice; Tone-Loc , “Funky Cold Medina” and Lucinda William’s, “Righteously.” One a bit quicker and one a bit more relaxed.

 

Music

Prepare yourselves for some mighty strange music tastes emanating from this drummer girl. I have always had eclectic tastes and today get a lot of my music inspiration from the radio station FUV. Where can I hear Massive Attack and the Doors on one radio station? This is the one for folks who love a wee bit of everything. This week the blast from the past coming out of my car radio was none other than Tone-Loc. Remember “Funky Cold Medina?” Super fun to practice my improv to. I can’t help but smile and get in the groove.

My latest vinyl purchase was the Rolling Stones “Blue and Lonesome.” I am a big fan of blues music and although the Stones are on my radar as a band I enjoy this music from them really makes me sit up and take notice.

In January FUV began an awesome new program where they feature an artist or genre of the week and play interviews and music interspersed throughout their playlists by the artist or genre they are featuring. It is an excellent educational component and has made me explore further, artists I may have otherwise not given a deeper listen to. The one I most appreciated recently; Lucinda Williams. Not just her music but also her drummer!

 

Seen and Heard: “Just How Many Drum Sets Do You Need?”

Ok, equipment! $$$ I started out with a Simmons electronic set five years ago for noise control in our very small house but last year procured a used Pearl acoustic and then ironically someone offered me a free Sound Percussion starter set. My¬†husband was trying to understand why did I need¬†ANOTHER set…I couldn’t pass it up. FREE! I felt like it was my¬†equivalent of a junker car. We learned how to change¬†drum heads on this set and set up and break down of its’ components. This was not something I wanted to do on my other set. I have also loaned the FREE set out to my¬†younger daughter’s school when she needed it.

We have finally put away the electronic kit but have the other two set up and it can be a very handy learning tool during lessons not to mention a heck of a lot of fun for the girls when they want to have a drum off. (ear plugs anyone?)

For my latest birthday I had the good fortune to acquire a great new cymbal set from the Memphis Drum Shop whose logo hat I proudly wear on cold winter days here on the east coast. It is a Zildjian Custom K Dark Series. I can only repeat over and over how much I love these new cymbals. The sound, feel and look just make me so darned happy. I feel like I want to stroke them lovingly every time I see them. Do I sound insane? Possibly!

I am now about to embark on changing the bottom and top heads which came with my used set. I am looking for a new sound and have decided to try the Aquarian Deep Vintage II series. It will be a mad experiment. I have not changed a head since acquiring the FREE set and boy, was that a learning experience. Professor Prokop taught the three of us in a lesson session but I needed to do the bass drum on my own as I needed some spare parts not available at the time of the lesson. Can I tell you how many rookie mistakes I made? It was laughable. The good news is that I did eventually get it right all on my own but it has been a while and I am planning on working on replacements on my beloved set next week. I am blocking a HUGE amount of time for this project. I felt equally unsure of changing out my cymbal set a few weeks back but with the help of a YouTube video sent by the Professor, who refused to coddle me (thank you!) I did it all on my own.

I always feel the drum set and all of the various parts is a bit mysterious…like I am not in the know of some sort of secret drum knowledge but learning little bits as I go along is also quite empowering.

Young Fella

A few words on the drum teacher we employ thanks to a referral from a good friend who upon learning of my drum girl wishes said…”I have just the guy for you.”

Brian Prokop did not blink an eye as I proposed lessons for both my older self and my oldest daughter. I wondered if I was his oldest student but did not say it out loud. I also wondered if he thought I was a silly old lady trying to pick up a musical instrument in her almost middle years. Almost five years later and I am quite certain I may be his oldest student but equally certain he does not believe me to be a silly old lady pursuing her musical dreams. His patience over my frustrations and excitement over my accomplishments says it all. I feel lucky we have found someone who works equally well with me and also with my two drummer daughters. We all are pursuing different paths and genres but he is quite flexible and skilled in helping each of us achieve our skill sets to be successful in what we are each trying to accomplish. I always appreciate his willingness to respond to questions via email or text and sometimes long winded (on my part) phone conversations. One of the biggest issues for me is trying to overcome the self consciousness I feel when having a lesson and this young fella is staring at me as I am playing. There has to be some life lesson here and I can only hope that some day I will not be afraid to come out of the basement where all of our musical instruments are housed and perform in public. (This may require some sort of therapeutic intervention in the future) I have never been one to shy away from performing. As a dancer I love, love, loved the performance part of my life but the confidence I felt in my skill set was strong and as of now I can only dream of acquiring a drum skill set which brings me the same sense of surety and enjoyment.

I plan on posting feedback from the Professor here after my bi-monthly lessons.

For those interested in the professor:

Brian Prokop

Prokop.brian@gmail.com

http://www.brianprokop.com